Legon Students Mad Over Toll Rates
By Pascal Kafu Abotsi
Some drivers who use the University of Ghana, Legon, thoroughfares to link to other areas are yet to come to terms with the intention of the management of the university to introduce the toll system, which will require them to pay toll rates anytime they enter and exit the university.
The payment, which has not yet begun, will be effected at roads currently being given a facelift, which link the various halls, departments and lecture halls.
While some of the drivers welcome the initiative, with the view that an improvement in the quality of the roads would enhance a longer lifespan of their vehicles, there were others who think it was an intentional attempt to extort money from them.
One of the drivers, who only gave his name as Kwame, said: ‘The toll will be passed on to students,’ which means that there would be an increase in the fares to be paid by students on campus.
Disagreeing with this position, however, Anthony, a taxi driver who operates at the main entrance of the university, said: ‘I know some of my colleagues will not agree with me, but we must pay for what we destroy. Everything is borne by government, but we have to be responsible too.’
According to management of the university, a total of 9.6 kilometres of roads were being resealed and asphalted. The tolling, Mr. Kwaku Tsegah, site engineer for the asphalting and resealing of roads, said would enable the university generate enough income to pay back loans they took from banks within a period of three years.
It is also intended to cater for the wear and tear the roads have undergone, as a result of their regular use.
The project involves the asphalting and resealing of selected roads on campus, which is expected to cost GH¢7 million, and would also have speed ramps to control the speed of vehicles.
The tolling would be tied to the six entry points to the university which would all have toll booths. Management is of the view that the regular use of the roads, especially by commercial vehicles, means that Accra has expanded, and that many vehicles use the Legon road to avoid traffic, among other things.
To students who support this idea, the toll booths, which are currently under construction and expected to be operational later this month, would lead to the generation of some income for the university, as the vehicles that enter and exit the campus are numerous, and would mean the payment of more tolls.
A flat rate of GH¢1 would be paid by users of the roads upon every entry, and this would apply to private vehicles only. While it is free for staff of the university, commercial vehicles and heavy trucks are expected to pay GH¢2 and GH¢3 respectively.
In his words, the Site Engineer asserted: ‘Everything is okay, and the work is going on smoothly,’ expressing that the work would be completed on schedule. The work remaining, he said, included the construction of drains and the asphalting of the road leading to the Teachers’ Hostel Fund.
Even though the rationale behind the collection of toll rates by the university authorities has been welcomed by most people, including those outside the boundaries of the university, some were of the view that asking students who have vehicles, most of who belonged to the non-working class, to pay toll rates, was rather ridiculous.
A third year Political Science student, Frank Adu, who expressed his sentiments in a very emotional manner, had this to say: ‘Why do students have to pay toll rates when they drive in and out of their own school? Does this make sense at all? I don’t think I can pay any such rate.’
Another student, Edem Mensah, was also of the view that the rate was exorbitant, and that something ought to be done about it.
For his colleague Mavis Ansah: ‘We don’t have to be going out and coming in as and when we like. We must use our time and money judiciously, because if you want to be going out and coming in, it means you would have to pay more.’
A fourth student, Evelyn Buabeng, was of the view that the students should support the university authorities to achieve the intended purpose for which the initiative was introduced, since the institution did not need too much reliance on the government to carry out its activities.
‘I believe this will boost the internally-generated funds of the university. Money generated can be used to put up more facilities to admit more students. It is a good idea,’ she said, adding that ‘Ghanaians don’t want to be creative, but do things the same way all the time.’
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